Chris Froome won back-to-back mountain stages to wrest the race leader’s jersey from Tejay van Garderen and take overall victory in the Criterium du Dauphine, his second win in three years.
Rider(s) of the race
There were a number of notable performances in the race, not least that of the overall winner to whom I’m going to defer. Chris Froome singled out the immense work done by his team day after day to ensure he was in a position to seize the race leader’s jersey on the last stage. He might have been responsible for those trademark stinging attacks which left the other contenders flailing in his wake on the final climbs but the real damage was often inflicted by the relentless pace setting of his teammates, all of whom turned in magnificent performances.
So please step forward the Sky supporting cast of Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Peter Kennaugh (stage one winner and wearer of the leader’s jersey for two days), Wout Poels, Nicolas Roche, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard.
After the stage, Froome dedicated the victory to his teammates and admitted everything was going to plan heading into the Tour de France:
I can’t believe it. I couldn’t have expected it to go any better today. My legs were really tired after yesterday and the whole team was suffering. I don’t know how they did it but everyone lifted themselves with the yellow and blue jersey in sight. They gave everything – Ian Stannard rode alone for almost 100km to control the breakaway and the rest of the team were fantastic up to that moment where I could attack and put pressure on Tejay.
The Dauphine was a big focus for me, but the Tour de France is the main objective. The team is ready, and I’m almost ready. We’re less than three weeks away now and I’m really looking forward to it.
Four things we noticed
1. Tension. We love races where the overall goes to the wire. This Dauphine kept us on the edge of our seats and speculating as to who might win, particularly during the mountain stages where the advantage swung back and forth between a number of the main contenders – all of which bodes well for La Grande Boucle in July.
2. Talent. The cream always rises to the top! The overall was largely contended by those we anticipated would be there or thereabouts including some stellar performances from the youngsters. Romain Bardet won stage five to Pra Loup with a frankly terrifying descent off Col d’Allos – I do hope his Mum wasn’t watching! He was lying second overall on GC when he crashed on a wet corner inside the last 5km the following day and dropped out of the top ten, only to later rebound to sixth overall. On that same fateful stage, Simon Yates attacked with 15km to go and put in a brilliant ride which helped him finish fifth overall and win the white jersey of best young rider. Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) won the king of the mountains jersey to become the first African winner of a WorldTour jersey. His young teammate Louis Meintjes also impressed in the mountains.
3. Scenery. It was a spectacularly scenic parcours and mimicked to a certain extent the Tour de France with its back-loaded mountain stages. It’s just a shame that the weather didn’t cooperate.
4. Form. As Froome said post-race, he’s almost there but there’s still three weeks to go until the Tour. Froome wanted to lay down a marker and win this race in a repeat of his 2013 Dauphine/Tour double while others, such as last year’s tour winner Vincenzo Nibali (12th overall), looked to be testing their form with a stage win ahead of the Tour but unconcerned about the overall. Many of the contenders rode the Dauphine off the back of a block of altitude training. A truer test of their form starts in Utrecht in July.
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 30:59:02
2. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +0:10
3. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) +1:16
4. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) +1:21
5. Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) +1:33
6. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +2:05
7. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) +2:52
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +3:06
9. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +3:12
10. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) +4:17
Link: Official race website
All images: Sky